Multi-camera roundtable with Livestream

What do you do when someone asks you to film a panel of speakers from the back of the room?

Do you do what’s asked or do you take the opportunity to leverage your ingenuity so that your customer gets a better video and you save yourself hours of editing and compressing?

Angie Chang founded Bay Area Girl Geek dinners in 2008 with the purpose of uniting tech-savvy and entrepreneurial women in the San Francisco Bay Area. The first event was hosted by Google in January 2008 where 400 girl geeks were invited to enjoy sushi, schwag, and conversation at Google’s Mountain View campus. Events sponsored by Facebook and Yahoo! soon followed. Girl Geek Dinner #35 included an all-star cast of past and present HP executives: most notably Ann Livermore, HP Directory and past HP Executive Vice President; and, Tracy Keogh, Executive Vice President, Global Human Resources. Colleague Tatyana Shapiro asked me if I could set up a camera back-of-room at Hewlett-Packard’s new Moffett Towers Sunnyvale campus and record the evening. Since this was a volunteer project I could propose anything that came to mind. I suggested up-leveling the request to a multi-camera Livestream production! My secret motive was to deliver a live-to-disk recording that did not require hours of volunteer post-production work. It was a win-win for everyone involved (especially considering tickets for the actual event sold out quicker than expected).

I brought two of my favorite DPs (Director of Photography) into the event and recruited a third helper who was unable to get a ticket for the dinner. We set up three Canon XA-105 cameras for the project. One for a wide angle shot of all five panelists and emcee. One for close-up shots. And and one for audience reaction. The nice thing about this project is that HP facilties provided an audio engineer and audio drop for us. The bad thing was that there was no budget for lighting — we had to use the standard cafeteria-style overhead florescents. We ran all three cameras into a Blackmagic Design ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher using HD-SDI cables. The switcher then output to a Blackmagic Design HyperDeck Shuttle for master recording and then into a Livestream Broadcaster box. The biggest problem we had was getting the Livestream Broadcaster box onto the Internet. The Broadcaster software does not allow you to identify a proxy-server or navigate enterprise web security. We ended up using a MiFi box.

At the end of the evening we had an Apple ProRes 422 recording on SSD and an already delivered video on If we had not chosen this path, we would have had many hours ahead of us ingesting, editing, and exporting media. In the long run this path provided us with a faster time to delivery and lower-cost without all of the post production.